As one of the largest meat companies in the country, Cargill has numerous resources at its disposal. It has put those resources to good use, determining what it is that consumes desire and developing new products to meet those needs.

“We’ve made a big investment in consumer insights over the last few years. A few years ago, we did the largest beef consumer story, for example, that covered U.S. and Canadian consumers,” says Scott Vinson, vice president, retail sales.

Tom Windish, president, retail channel, says that Cargill’s retail customers the company to know what will move off their shelves and to give them the kind of insight about their customers that they need.

“We had to invest in and build this muscle for ourselves, internally, so when we bring new innovation to market, we want our customers to know that it’s right, and that the flavors are right for their customers so it will move off of their shelves,” he explains.

Some of the company’s latest initiatives were available for sampling at the 2020 Annual Meat Conference, held at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in early March. There, samples of Cargill’s new plant-based burgers were offered, as well as portions of its new line of Salt & Sear steaks.

Windish says that Cargill developed the Salt & Sear line to give consumers a restaurant-quality steak without having to leave their home.

“It’s about utilizing our supply chain to find the quality products that our customers look for and their consumers look for,” he adds. “The product speaks for itself; all you need to do is salt it and sear it, and you have a wonderful restaurant-quality meal at home. That’s really what we’re trying to help our retail customers do, is pull from foodservice and make sure that their business continues to be able to offer the kind of quality that their customer can get from a restaurant.”

Cargill’s foray into plant-based protein is along a similar vein. The consumer demand for the product is high, and the company used its resources to develop a product that meets the need. Vinson assures that Cargill is still very much committed to the animal-based supply chain.

“Again, our retails and customers want to set themselves apart, they want to take advantage of this growing area of sales, and we want them to know that Cargill wants to be a part of it,” he adds.